Human Computer Interaction, open sharing of information, worms

I recently found out about this HCI conference called CHI 2020, where human computer interface enthusiasts and researchers from all over the world come together to share and learn from one another. Sounds like the Yale-NUS community spirit for HCI!

It’ll be based in Hawaii this year, although I heard that it was held in Glasgow last year. I’m thinking of attending this year to get a sense of how big the field is and to understand what cool stuff other people are doing. I heard that people walk up to strangers to share their projects enthusiastically, as opposed to hiding behind their posters and being especially reticent about their projects… (Throwback to Scientific Inquiry II poster day… Ah, fun times.) However, as if the recent Coronavirus outbreak hasn’t already thrown a spanner in the works for too many things, this conference is another one to be put on hold for me in case the situation escalated.

Speaking of open sharing and enthusiasm… I am reminded of the Home-brew Computer Club in Menlo Park that Steve Jobs and Woz used to go to. Apparently Woz really liked the open culture there and shared very openly, while Jobs felt that they were simply letting all their hardwork get stolen in the spirit of open sharing, and decided that enough was enough, they had to start being more protective about the things they were doing with the boards so people couldn’t simply copy them. I guess those were the early days that set Apple on this path of “closed-in walled garden ecosystem” products that we’re seeing today. You can read more about it here.

Real sad that the world of profitable big tech is less open to sharing intellectual property, but that’s the way it is with the spirit of capitalism that we’re forced to live with. If there’s any respite, the Biology Laboratory that I’m doing a course at uses C. elegans, which has had an open history of freely providing worm species to one another because well, they are worms afterall. So the lab managers say that it’s about S$10 to mail a petri dish of worms as compared to thousands of dollars to get mutant mice from the laboratory today. Real cool, huh? If you’d like, you can order some mutant worms right here, delivered straight to your mailbox from this site: https://cgc.umn.edu. If you’d like to learn more, Wormbase and Wormbook are great resources to find out about the worm’s genome too. I’ve heard that it’s even easier to mail to your home as compared to the laboratory since the laboratory has a shared mailbox and the envelops can get easily mixed up!

Here, I’ll leave you with an image of the worms we deal with in the laboratory. I was absolutely astonished by the sheer amount of worms contained in the small vial of liquid – about no larger than the size of a raindrop.

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